July 27 (Reuters) – Malaysia-based sweetener group PureCircle Ltd (PURE.L) warned full-year profitability would be below last year as it was running under capacity and invested heavily in production overheads, sales and marketing.
The company’s shares were down 21.2 percent at 216 pence at 0719 GMT on Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange.
PureCircle, which supplies sweeteners to U.S. beverage giants PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N) and Coca-Cola Co (KO.N), also said it expected sales for the year ended June 30 to be flat from year-ago levels.
Separately, the company said it signed a memorandum of understanding with British Sugar Group, a unit of food and retail group Associated British Foods (ABF.L), to form a joint venture owned equally by both parties.
The joint venture, to be called Natural Sweetness Co, will develop and market products that combine the benefits of both sugar and stevia, PureCircle said.
Stevia is a shrub native to Paraguay, and compounds from its leaves like Rebaudioside A (Reb A) are likely to compete with established artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame and sucralose, which are sold under brand names Sweet’N Low, NutraSweet and Splenda. (Reporting by Tresa Sherin Morera in Bangalore; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)